The Prieuré at Fontainebleau

Gurdjieff International Review

A VISIT to Gourdyev

by Denis Saurat

[The Living Age, New York, January 1934, Vol. CCCXLV (4408), pp. 427–433. Originally published in French as Visite à Gourdjieff. Denis Saurat visited the Prieuré for a weekend in February 1923. Saurat describes his contradictory impressions of Gurdjieff who appears alternately contemptuous, provocative, irritable then finally serious and "extraordinarily courteous." This skeptical article became raw material for subsequent skepticism about Gurdjieff among French intellectuals and journalists. Saurat later revised his opinion of Gurdjieff and his teaching and came to recognize Beelzebub's Tales as a major work. NOTE: The English spelling of Gurdjieff's name had not yet stabilized and is here given as 'Gourdyev' in keeping with the Russian pronunciation.]

Ten years ago M. Saurat visited Gourdyev's school of wisdom at Fontainebleau under the auspices of Mr. A. R. Orage who is now best known for his advocacy of the Social Credit theory.

SATURDAY morning, February 17th 1923. The Fontainebleau station. Orage comes to meet me when I arrive by train from Paris. Orage is a big Yorkshireman of vague French descent: hence his name is taken from the French word for storm. For fifteen years he has been a power in English literary circles. He owned a half-literary, half-political weekly review, the New Age, which was the most lively intellectual organ in England between 1910 and 1914.

Orage might have been the greatest critic in English literature, which has produced few critics, and which is dying of that lack, though it revives every time a writer of genius emerges and joins a great tradition. But Orage sold the New Age and went to Fontainebleau: literature interested him no more.…

[The complete text is available in the printed copy of this issue.]
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